When experience something, positive or negative, it is a whole body experience, we make sense of it all and give it narrative thoughts afterwards, but we feel it first.
Everything we go through leaves an imprint in our body, if we only use talking to heal, then we are limiting our ability to make sense and recover. Our attachment patterns in our early life play a huge part in how we relate to ourselves and others, it also determines our ability to regulate our emotions and our nervous system.
All of the different experiences we have growing up contribute to the different parts of us, we all have scared child parts, stroppy teenage parts, work parts and playful parts, but we rarely understand the extent they affect our daily lives. As individuals we have different levels of resilience and coping capacity, all of these factors play a part in how likely we are to become traumatised through life events. From an early age we are encouraged to think, but rarely are we encouraged to pay attention to our body sensations and often we are discouraged from connecting to our emotions. This can result in us becoming disconnected from our bodies, overthinking and unable to manage our emotions or physical sensations.
Sensorimotor psychotherapy enables us to reconnect with our body, understand what is happening to us and why, but more importantly it helps us know what is needed. Our needs are sometimes unknown to us, others needs seem more important and we can get lost. When we learn to listen, tune in and have a greater understanding, we feel more in control, more confident and learn to put safe, consistent boundaries in place. We learn how to be mindful and stop overthinking.
It is not always necessary to tell our story, the body has its own story to tell and when we include our body in the healing process, it results in a much deeper, transforming experience.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a very effective way to treat a traumatic event, by allowing it to process.
Traumatic memories are stored in the ‘smoke detector’ part of our brain called the Amygdala. Memories stored here do not fade, change or go away. They stay as vivid and bright as the initial event. Anything relating to the initial event (image, sound, smell) can trigger these memories and we feel as though we are reliving the traumatic event. It fires our whole nervous system up, we feel scared and re-experience any sensation over and over again.
Normally when we sleep and dream, we process emotional content from the day before. We do this during REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep, when our brain processes by accessing the left or right XX, rapidly causing our eyes to move backwards and forwards under our eyelids.
The Amygdala is part of our reptilian brain and part of our core survival mechanism, so it is not accessible for processing when we sleep. EMDR replicates the REM phase of sleep by accessing right and left XX of the brain with eye movements, tapping or sound.
We have one foot in the present because we are awake, and one in the past, recollecting the trauma memory. Using the left and right processing, we go through the events and we witness them changing and fading.
Once processed, they don’t come back, they don’t fire up our nervous system and no longer make us feel like we’re reliving the event.